A Canadian lobbying firm paid $200,000 to represent Venezuelan political party Progressive Advance filed paperwork this week with the Justice Department claiming it planned to seek U.S. support for opposition leader Henri Falcón as he seeks to become Venezuela’s newly elected President.

Henri FalconHenri Falcón

Now representatives for the Venezuelan politician are denying the claims made in that filing.

Montreal-based Canada’s Dickens & Madson filed documents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act in July stating that the firm would “lobby the executive and/or legislative branches of the government of the United States and its agencies to support the efforts of the political party Progressive Advance to elect Henri Falcón as President of Venezuela.”

Falcón, a former Chavista who was previously governor of Venezuela’s mayor Lara State, ran against incumbent Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela’s widely-contested 2018 snap election, which saw Maduro being re-elected for a second six-year term.

That election, which was recognized by more than 60 countries as illegitimate, has thrown Venezuela into a political and humanitarian crisis, as the oil-rich nation continues to be hammered by food shortages, protests, rampant inflation and a lack of medical supplies, not to mention recently-imposed sanctions by the U.S. government in an attempt to oust Maduro.

Juan Guaidó, who heads Venezuela’s National Assembly, has been recognized as interim President of Venezuela by 54 countries. Maduro, meanwhile, a protégé of deceased former president Hugo Chavez, has resumed talks aimed at ending the crisis, yet refuses to abdicate amid calls for a new election.

A Falcón adviser told the Associated Press yesterday that D&M’s filing was “due to a clerical error.” Falcón to date has not publicly announced plans to run as a Venezuelan presidential candidate.

In light of the filing, several news outlets are still reporting that Falcón is seeking the support of the U.S. government to become president of Venezuela. D&M has since filed amended paperwork with the Justice Department, according to the Washington Post.

D&M’s was also hired to influence United States policy in favor of the Progressive Advance party, as well as to lobbying the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. and Russian Federation governments to secure a peaceful resolution and aid the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, including assistance stabilizing Venezuela during and after its political transition, according to FARA filings.

Additionally, D&M said it would provide media and public relations services on behalf of Progressive Advance’s goals and activities and may also provide lobbying services in other countries.

D&M’s work for Progressive Advance is set bring the consultancy $200,000 USD, with the campaign to run for a year, renewable upon mutual agreement.

Dickens & Madson is headed by Ari Ben-Menashe, an Iranian-born former Israeli intelligence officer whose Montreal-based lobbying firm previously represented ousted Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe and Libyan militia commander Khalifa Haftar.

D&M also recently signed a $6 million pact to represent Sudanese militia chief Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy leader of Sudan’s military council.